When museums were cemetaries
December 20, 2002 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Futurism and the Futurists is a comprehensive (but oddly self-promotional) website showcasing the ideas, biographies, and works of the Italian Futurists. Enjoy the painting, poetry, the fabulous theatre "sentesi," and of course, all those lovely manifestos.
posted by Pinwheel (15 comments total)
Considering how rabidly pro-war some of the Futurists were, I found this rather blissfully ironic:

Politically active, in 1914 Boccioni demonstrated and agitated in favor of Italy's entry into the war. When Italy entered the war in 1915, he joined a battalion of cyclist volunteers. In August 1916, Boccioni accidentally fell from his horse and was trampled. He died the next day.

Oops! Goes to show you, be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.
posted by mark13 at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2002

"Too bad they were all fascists."
posted by lbergstr at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2002

Excellent link. I never thought I'd actually get to hear a noise intoner.
posted by skyline at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2002

Manifestos are soooo passé.

-The Non-Manifestoist Manifesto

1. When you walk in move immediately to the right
2. Order your soup with no enthusiasm at all
3. Put your money on the counter and move to your left
4. Take your soup and do not give any comments

-The Soup Nazi 's Manifesto
posted by Shane at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2002

Skyline: I found the site when searching for more information about the noise intoner. (More)

That would make an intresting post in its own right.
posted by Pinwheel at 11:40 AM on December 20, 2002

Thanks, Pinwheel. This is some of my favorite art-- although I don't agree with their bombastic political and social views, I love how they took it to the extremes and tried to create a yoke for human understanding of the future.
posted by cell divide at 11:41 AM on December 20, 2002

slightly OT but there's a site i found a while back that had nothing but manifestos on it. i know it had the unabomber epic, some surrealist stuff, and maybe 20 or 30 other rants. anybody know what i'm talking about or where i can find it?
posted by landock at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2002

Thanks pinwheel -- great stuff! (shame about the politics, etc.) As a side note, did anyone else first learn about the Futurists thanks to Adam and the Ants? You gotta admit, "war is the world's only hygiene / energy and fearlessness! / racing cars, the beauteous beast / hurl defiance at the stars!" is a pretty catchy lyric. Or maybe I was just a very strange 13-year-old. Shut up. I know.

One of the things that's fascinating about a number of the European avant-garde art movements of this period is how virtually all of them were so profoundly affected (in one way or another) by the rise in urbanism, industrialization, transportation, mass communication, etc., and yet came to such radically different political conclusions (or at least used art to further radically different political ideologies) while maintaining some striking similarities in aesthetics. The Constructivists were the anti-Futurists when it came to their politics, for example, but were very much on the same side of the fence when it came to design.

For the truly loony (and I mean that in a good way) confluence of politics and avant-garde art from the period, the "Zenithists" (mainly led by brothers Ljubomir Micic and Branko Poljanski) are pretty hard to beat. Think Yugoslavian Dadaism-meets-Constructivism, with equal parts Marxism and mythical/apocalyptic Serb nationalism. Interestingly, when Micic got thrown in jail by Yugoslav officials for his left-wing sympathies, it was the Italian futurist Marinetti who bailed him out and helped him go into exile.
posted by scody at 12:38 PM on December 20, 2002

I don't find it odd that any two ideologies could differ politically but not aesthetically. Politics and (good) art do not, and should not, influence one another significantly.
posted by Pinwheel at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2002

I do agree that it's not necessarily "odd," per se. I just think it's interesting that the various upheavals of the first two decades of the 20th century led to some extraordinary art movements that overlapped significantly on the aesthetic plane but diverged wildly on the political plane. So you get the juxtoposition of Fascists and Bolsheviks using photomontage, typographics, technological imagery, etc. in similar visual ways, but ostensibly in the service of completely opposing ideologies.

In that regard, I respectfully disagree with your second point that politics and (good) art do not or should not significantly influence each other. There were a number of movements within modernism that were predicated on a fundamental belief that art and politics must influence one another. Some of that politically-influenced art (whether on the left or the right) turned out to be spectacular (Lissitzky, for example). Some turned out to be terrible (even well before the advent of ugly Soviet Realist painting in the '30s).

So at times politics and art are inextricably connected* -- without that relationship, some of the Futurist work you linked to wouldn't have been made in the first place. And I think we both agree that would be a pity. (Thanks again for the wonderful link, by the way -- I'm not getting any work done this afternoon!)

*I hasten to add that it isn't necessary to produce great art within a specific political framework -- for example, Brancusi's revolutionary search for pure form led to some of the most beautiful sculpture of the past century, and it's certainly not overtly ideological.
posted by scody at 2:33 PM on December 20, 2002

Didn't Pc-so say that their great shortcoming was that without exception they all sucked?

o< no seriously he did say something along such lines
posted by KettleBlack at 3:57 PM on December 20, 2002

Boccioni's sculpture rocks.

Brancusi's revolutionary search for pure form led to some of the most beautiful sculpture of the past century

Was Brancusi a Futurist? If so, he transcended the sillier elements of the movement. I agree about the radical exploration of pure form, though.
posted by mediareport at 4:10 PM on December 20, 2002

Oop, nevermind, I see scody's point now.
posted by mediareport at 4:20 PM on December 20, 2002

Nice link, in any case. I've always loved the absurdity of art manifestos.
posted by hama7 at 1:04 AM on December 22, 2002

As far as cutting-edge aesthetic movements of the pre-WWI period go, I've always preferred the vorticists (more Wyndham Lewis links here, manifesto here, neo-vorticists here) and, on a purely literary level, the acmeists and imagists. But the futurists were fun (and to be fair, nobody had any idea at the time how bad fascism was going to get -- Mussolini was seen as a progressive socialist for quite a while).
posted by languagehat at 7:12 AM on December 22, 2002

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